Once again this year, some of Summerland’s downtown merchants will extend their Friday evening hours for several weeks.
The initiative begins on Festival of Lights on Friday evening and continues each Friday until Dec. 20.
The longer hours can encourage local shopping by providing greater access to the stores.
At present, many Summerlanders work out of town and do not get back to the community until after the downtown merchants have closed for the day.
This is not the first time businesses have considered extending their hours.
Last year, merchants also opened on Friday evenings in December.
In the summer, special events and country markets were held after the business day on Friday evenings as a way to draw people to the downtown.
Considering how recently Summerland did not have Sunday or Monday shopping, the expansion to Friday evening shopping is remarkable.
Still, evening shopping in Summerland is in an experimental stage.
Merchants have been testing out longer hours, but whether evening openings become the norm in Summerland will depend on the customers.
It is important to remember that for the merchants, the longer hours come at a cost.
Additional staffing time is needed in order to offer the longer hours.
It is hard to justify this cost unless the customers are coming into the stores and spending money on Friday evenings.
If this year’s Friday evening openings work out well, it is possible that Summerland will see evening shopping more often and possibly throughout the year.
It’s up to the customer base.